Saturday, August 31, 2013

SAR #13244 - a vacation edition

Mother Nature is indifferent to our fate; we should not be.

The Fog Of War: Surveys show that a majorty of the American people do not want their nation to attack Syria. A vast majority say that President Droner should have congressional approval before commencing yet another war. There's not a snowball's chance in Damascus that these citizens will have any impact at all on the determined march to war the Washington lemmings are on. (I'm on vacation and don't gonna comment on this idiocy again until it is underway.)

Rinsed & Repeated: The Dodd-Frank Actrequired banks keep at least 5% of any loan they secuirtized – so they would have some money in the game and not be quite so cavalier about the dreck they were peddling. Now federal regulators have re-defined that to require the banks keep 5% of at least 2% of the crap they are palming off on the public. Hey, anybody here remember 2007?

Rank Ranking: Put the following in their proper order of odorliness: Attorneys, Banksters, Congresscritters.

Keeping Score: The investigations underway by Justice and the SEC into some 200 instances of bribery by JPMorgan in its Asian businesses have been helped by an internal JPMorgan spreadsheet which contained the dates and businesses and so on for... well, for nearly 200 instances of bribery. It's what the pros call “a clue”.

Reality Check: Does welfare really pay better than working? No, of course not. Can you fiddle with statistics to argue that it does? Well, sure. Would those on the right do such a thing? Well, sure. Will these falsifications be quoted as a reason to cut social spending? Of course, that's why the did it. That's always why they do it. They being the Cato Institute, this time.

Union Drones: Olny 99.5% of those greedy, lazy, over-paid, self-centered teachers use their own money to buy classroom supplies for their students. What's wrong with these people, don't they know they're no good? Why, they even stuff food in the backpacks of many of their poorest kids so they'll have something to eat over the weekend. 
Experience: Former Rep. Joe Walsh, (Reprobate, TX) who owes $117,437 in overdue child support, says African-Americnas lack good parenting skills.

Priorities: Mayor Bloomberg's city – that stop-and-frisk everyone who choses not the be white kind of city which paid $700 million to its abused citizens last year – won't spend $1 million to equip the cops with wearable cameras (small enough to fit on their lapels) that would record what the cop was actually doing. Why? Because it would ruin the cops privacy to do what ever the hell they want to.

Overheard: Korea's Beloved Leader (Junior Edition) Kin Jong-Un’s former girlfriend, singer Hyon Song-wol “and others”, were apparently publicly executed by machine gun “for violating laws against pornography”. 
Register Votes, Not Guns: In at least 33 of these United States “you can buy an assault weapon without ID, versus zero states where you can vote without providing some kind of ID”, and a few where you can't vote even if you manage to get registered.

Big Frogs In Small Ponds: The 'revised' GDP growth rate for 2Q13 is 2.5%, giving the firsst half of the wear a stunning 1.8% growth rate on top of the 4-quarter's 1.6% growth. Don't go getting all excited, the early stats for the third quarter aren't all that good either.

The Times They Are A'Changing: On Saturday, August 31, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a same-sex marriage ceremony. Way to go, Ruthie!

He Said: “The people who congratulated themselves for saving the world in 1999 were actually setting the world up for a far worse crisis, just a few years later.”

Just Like The Good Old Days: India's debt bubble has burst; none of the experts saw it coming. Nope, get in there and invest in those emerging economies. It's called a business cycle for a reason, and they are called bubbles for a reason. Why they are called experts is anybody's guess.

Porn O'Graph: The Other Side of the Mountian.

The Parting Shot:

Friday, August 30, 2013

SAR #13242

Naiveté does not make the world a better place.

No Exit: 'Sexed up' or not 'sexed up'? Has Obama made the case for beating up Assad? The British Parliament says no, as does Rumsfeld (who knows about such things) and both Congress and the American Publichave doubts. As does China. Putin has sent two Russian warships to the eastern Mediterranean, just in case. Israel, for some reason, wants the war, and is backed by secret sources in the secret intelligence business. Go ahead, make my day.

Pivot Point: AG Holder now says that the feds will concentrate their anti-marijuana efforts on those with ties to criminal organizations, the trafficking to children and transporting the weed across state lines – in states where pot has been legalized. Not to be outdone, the Treasury and IRS say that they'll recognize same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes, no matter where the legally-married gays now live. The R's ain't gonna like either of these.
Clip & Save: "At the risk of being called a crackpot again, I repeat my forecasts of 450 for the S&P, sub-1% US 10y yields and gold above $10,000." Albert Edwards of Societe Generale,

Raining On The Parade: Has the shale bubble burst? Burst? Bubble? What bubble? We're gonna be rich I tell you, rich. Don't tell me that shale gas is going to be limited and that the high financial and human cost of fracking mean that energy forever needs to be revised to energy for a few years. Don't want to hear it. Depletion? Hell, just drill baby drill. What do you mean all the good spots have already been drilled... or that the gas you're getting won't pay for drilling the holes... or that your liability insurance for ruining all those water wells is getting too expensive...

The Untouchables: Only 47% of 55-64 year-olds who lose their jobs get another one, and that only after about 46 weeks. And of those who do manage to get hired make about 18% less than they did before the pink slip came along. 
Breadcrumbs: One Darryl Woods, then CEO of a bank in Missouri, has admitted in court to using $ 381,487 of TARP funds his bank received to buy himself a house in Florida. “Using”. That's different than stealing, right? 
Best Friends Forever: If one of your Facebook friends gets in financial trouble, unfriend him. Immediately. Data miners are starting to build profiles of you that include your contacts with deadbeats, on the theory that it takes one to know one. Social connection with poor credit risks will, under their scheme, make you a poor credit risk, too. No, it doesn't work the other way around.

One Size Fits Some: US banks banked $42.2 billion in profits in the second quarter of the year. The average worker hasn't had a raise in real terms since 1979, official unemployment is at 7.4%, and there are over 4 million long-term unemployed – mostly 55 and older.

Datapoint: Real median household income is now 7.2% below its January 2000 level. Virtually every economic group (except the 1%, of course) "has been adversely affected, almost every group is worse off now than it was four years ago,” So much for the much celebrated US economic recovery. 
Handyman Hint: Ethanol is bad for lawn mowers and other small gasoline engines. If there's not a station near you that sells non-ethanol gasoline, go out of your way to find one. If you must use the stuff, buy it in small amounts - and don't store it over the winter. 
The Parting Shot:
 Hairy milk pea, Galactia volubilis ?

Note: SAR is taking a few days off and postings may be erratic until mid-September.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

SAR #13241

People like to be told what they already know.

Rematch: Speaker Boehner says that the Republicans will not raise the debt ceiling unless they get 'matching' reductions in federal spending - without touching Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, farm programs and Congressional pensions. Obama's not inclined to negotiate at all, maintaining that the federal debt is the result of Congresscritters like Boehner passing laws that spend money without having the guts to raise taxes to pay for the programs. Beating up the current administration for the ills of a couple of decades of Congressional cowardice simply doesn't seem reasonable. But the Republicans do not need to be 'reasonable' - they have cut up congressional districts so their seats are safe as long as they keep the rightest of the right wing nuts happy. This game of chicken will come to a head in mid-October, reserve your seats now.

Times Change: When it is one of our (albiet temporary) friends that uses chemical weapons, like Saddam, it is ignored. Plausible denial, y'know, when the thug is one of ours.

Morality And Sanctity: The ongoing portrayal of public workers' pension contracts as disposable tissues shows just how little respect for contracts the banksters and their henchmen have when it doesn't involve their own bonuses for bankrupting companies. The 'elites' are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper. (Exhibit A is Detroit, B is Chicago, more to follow.)) The banksters, who made off with the pension funds, now find it inconvenient to uphold their part of the contract. So they will wiggle out through bankruptcy, even though these pension obligations are guaranteed under the state constitution. The only thing that's guaranteed is that the rich will steal the money and leave the workers pensionless. 
New BFF: Over 70 countries made requests for users' data from Facebook, Google, Microsoft – our own government itself made tens of thousands of them, even though few governments need to go to others to track you down. Supposedly the vast majority of these requests relate to criminal cases. Supposedly.

Restocking: The number of existing homes on the market has increased by 24% so far this year. Some say this is because the increase in sales and prices has prompted more folks to put thier homes on the market, now that they might break even and get out of their mortgages. Others suggest that the inventory is growing because the baseless surge in activity is petering out. Either way, more houses on the market usual result less upward pressure on prices.

The Rules of Law: In 2011, FISA Court Judge John Bates noted that 'The court is troubled that..” That three times in three years the government had to appear in the FISA court and admit that it had told the court “substantial” lies in misrepresenting “the scope of a major collection program.” Good thing they're on our side.

Wanna Bet? Just when you thought the Federal Government was with the program, the Department of Veterans Affairs says that Title 38 of the US Code defines "spouse" as a person of the opposite sex and as long as it does, DVA doesn't care about what other laws may say, they say the language of USC 38 rules. Wait till you hear some of the language our veterans will use.

The Parting Shot:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SAR #13240

Sometimes the best we can do simply isn't very good.

Playbill: Amid the allegations being traded in Syria about chemical weapons, in Istanbul the Syrian National Coalition elected Ghassan Hitto 'prime minister' of an interim government to control the rebel-held areas of Syria. Hitto is a Syrian-born US citizen and if this starts to sound familiar, it should. His 'election' is seen by many as the price the US demanded the rebels pay to receive Western arms and aid.

In The Kitchen: Now that the crisis caused by the housing bubble is over (sic) we are faced with the enormous bubble in central banking that grew to contain it. Our economies no longer have isolated bubbles, they have become a chain of bubbles upon bubbles with no apparent end. The cure has become as dangerous as the disease.

Forecast: Soothsayers now say that the Republican's Big Budget Battle will not be fought in October (over the continuing resolution to continue the unresolved budget problems) but in November (by denying the Treasury the ability to issue any more bonds). All to 'make a stand' against the Affordable Care Act. While the governmental lurching to a halt that failing to pass at least a continuing resolution (no way an actual budget is ever going to be passed again) would be bad, the damage failing to raise the debt limit would do would be economically disastrous - immediately and with world-wide and lasting damage. That it would also be disastrous to the political future of the Republican Party does not seem to bother them at all. Wouldn't bother me, either.

Slip Sliding: The June Case-Shiller house price index showed a modest 0.89% increase m/m. This was the third consecutive decline in the growth rate of house prices, and the smallest increase in nearly a year. Bob Shiller views the current housing market with skepticism, "none of this is real, the housing market has gotten very speculative.' And then he added the kiss of death, describing the current housing market as "driven by irrational exuberance." Is there an echo in here?

Fine, Just Fine: The US is demanding a minimum of $6 billion from JPMorgan for losses due to the 'London Whale' scam in “mis-selling” MBS. JPMorgan is, of course resisting – if only because it would set a bad precedent and encourage others to join the feast.

Medical Costs: Women's healthcare is more expensive than men's because women have breasts. See, you can learn a lot by watching FOX. 
Overtly Covert: Police at Wisconsin's Capitol building tackled and beat a photographer recording a progressive group singing about love and democracy. They also tackled and hauled off two men who were were just standing there watching while black. The whole thing was captured on the capitol's covert surveillance cameras. What do these cops tell their kids when they get home?

Rose Is Rose: The state programs set up to implement the Affordable Care Act all have their own names, and none is called 'Obamacare'. It won't be long before Obamacare's happy customers are calling Washington and demanding not to be forced to join Obamacare because they have such a good state program. 
The Parting Shot:
 Lobelia sp?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SAR #13239

Everyone likes a happy ending...

Nostalgia: A few members of Congress, who haven't been paying attention for the last decade or two, think Obama needs Congressional authorization to start another war. Silly. It won't be a war. You think the administration that hassn't seen Morsi's removal by the military as a coup is going to have trouble finding verbal camouflage for anther Great Adventure? 
Fun And Profit: Google (and others) were paid millions of dollars by NSA (if not by the CIA) to help them violate all sorts of privacy statements and reassurances while advancing State Department and CIA agendas around the world. Back in the 1930's there was a word for this sort of thing... fascism.

'Unexpectedly' Meets The Recovery: Orders for durable goods fell 7.3% in July, indicating that US manufacturing's recovery will be a bit less robust than the fan club claimed.
Dance Steps: Why has the Fed given up on America’s unemployed? Last year's theory was that almost all US unemployment was cyclical and thus reparable through stimulus. So Ben kept giving money to the banks and pretended it was a stimulus. Now high unemployment (even masked by other factors) is becoming a fact of life. Next year we'll see 7% cited as the 'natural rate of unemployment'. Seems that the cyclical part of unemployment is only curable in an expanding economy. Seems that giving Goldman Sachs sacks of money drives up asset prices without driving down employment. Oh, well, they tried – not too hard, but a little. Time to tighten monetary policy and make unemployment worse, just in case inflation might still be a word in the dictionary.

Asked & Equivocated: “Can you solve a debt problem with more debt?” Maybe, just maybe... Not in the real world, of course, but who lives there anyway?

Three, Two, One, Zero: Global warming is not something that is going to suddenly happen come January 1, 2100. It is already happening. It is happening in our forests - they are drying out and burning. It is seen in our more frequent and harsher storms and hurricanes. It is acidifying our oceans a rate unparalleled in the life of the oceans for at least 250 million years ' setting up feedback cycles that will make future unrecognizable. At the rate we're not doing anything about the 90 million tones of CO2 we dump into the atmosphere every day, January 2100 may not happen on a world we'd recognize. Business as usual is a suicide pact. Burning all that shale gas is playing Russian Roulette with an automatic. We – you and me and that fellow over there - we need to reduce our CO2 emissions. To zero. Very suddenly. 
Keep Your Charity At Home: The Raleigh, NC City Council, at the behest of the good old boy developers and real estate speculators, is pressuring the police to 'clean up' downtown by threatening to arrest charity groups for feeding the homeless – which they've been doing for six years. But that was before the homeless became an inconvenience to redevelopment profits.

Acts Of Contrition: Obama has granted Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest permanent absolution for any and all of the war crimes they instigated, ordered, or condoned while in office. They cannot be sued, no matter how egregious their crimes. The President most certainly hopes that what goes around comes around.

The Parting Shot:

Monday, August 26, 2013

SAR #13238

The Dream has become a recurring nightmare.

Is Assad An Idiot? As the Washington warmongers move closer to starting Afghanistan 2.0 or Iraq Light, the question arises: Why would Syria's Assad launch a chemical attack while UN inspectors were in town? Why would he do the one thing that would upset Putin? What would he gain by provoking Obama into action? Why use gas against women and children and not against the al-Qaeda and US backed rebels? Ask yourself what Assad had to gain, as opposed to what the rebels stand to gain. Not to mention the warmongers back in DC.

Working Definitions: California prison authorities sterilized nearly 150 female prisoners between 2006 and 2010. Don't get too upset; anesthesia was used and, with nearly 150 instances, it was hardly unusual. Move along.

Halving The Dream: Boby Jindal took the anniversary of The Speech to explain that racism in the US persists because blacks insist on being black, and George Will lectured to the oppressed that it was single motherhood and not white discrimination that was the problem. Meanwhile, in South Carolina a group of black diners were ejected because they wanted to sit at the whites only lunch counter a couple of whites felt 'intimidated'. Wannabe Ted Cruz chimed in, claiming that repealing the Affordable Care Act would help Africa-Americans somehow or other. On a positive note, Colin Powell says (hopes, really) that the Republican imposed suppression of black votes is "going to backfire" against them. 
Door To Door: It's been fun, watching the real estate apologists explain away the god-awful downward trend in new home sales. “Remember, it's just one month's data,” they say, ignoring the previous two months. “The downward revisions were expected,” they say, but don't suggest that the bad July numbers will also be revised downward. “Rising mortgage rates show up in New Home sales first,” they say, which should simply prepare you for a drop in existing home sales, not cheer you up. This could be a really big deal, pay attention.

Correction: The headline read: 'Politics has Doomed the Climate Change Debate.' Wrong, it is not the debate that is doomed, it's us.

I'm Loving It: While stopping nasty terrorist plots left and right and reading all of your emails, NSA also found time to 'occasionally read the private communications of their ex-lovers. Some suggest that every pillow in every cheap motel in the DC area is wired; maybe so, but not always by NSA. Even so, the guys at Fort Meade found time to break the UN's encrypted communications, as well as – one certainly hopes – 98% of all the diplomatic codes in current use. 
Them That Has, Has Mattresses: Turns out that one of the brakes on inflation is that the rich are keeping 37% of their cash out of circulation. 
Identity Theft: A major legacy of the Greater Recession is the four million long-term unemployed, folks who can't get their resumes read, can't even get hired at McDonald's. Why is that, do they lack education? Nope. Is it because they're black or Latino or something? Nope. Are they old farts? Well, yes. But mostly, the long term unemployed are simply the short term unemployed who didn't luck into a job, week after week, month after month. And pretty much it is not their fault.

Sleazy Exits Stage Left: Clueless and unrepentant, San Diego's Bob Filner is done as Mayor, but he's not sure why. He maintains he did nothing wrong, that his inappropriate words and groping was just his way of making friends and “had no intention to be offensive...” Just think what it'd have been like if he tried.

The Parting Shot:
 Morning Commute, Venice.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

SAR #13237

If our lives and liberty were not at stake, this whole affair would be a hilarious sitcom.

Plot Thickener: The Independent attributed a sensational revelation about Great Britain running a “secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East” to “documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.” Trouble is, Snowden said he was not the source for this or any other revelation made by The Independent. Okay, then who? And why?

No-Fly Zone: The Obama administration wants Congress to allow Obama to sign the super-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty – turning sovereignty over to international corporations – before the document is even presented to Congress for debate. Fat chance.

Inconvenient Coincidences: A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that the closer the source of your water is to a hydraulically fractured gas well, the more likely it is that your water will be contaminated with methane. Correlation does not prove causation, but it might put a damper on fracking. 
Sauce: The Army sergeant who killed 16 Afghan civilians on a killing spree as been given life without parole for the massacre. How long should Bush/Cheney & Friends get for the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians in their Great Adventure in Iraq? Or Obama, for his rising toll in Yemen?

Enthusiasm Lite; New home sales fell 20% M/M in July, and sales for April, May, and June were revised downward 1,5%, 4.3%, and 8.4%respectively (all are SAAR). There will be a slight pause while exculpatory myths are rounded up.

The Headline: “JPMorgan Chase Not Akin to Nazis, Report Finds.” I feel better already.

Magic Elixir: That part of the story about US energy independence that depends on the falling demand for petroleum has been put on temporary hold as US demand rose sharply in July to the highest level in three years. 
The Story Behind The Story: Al Jazeera America debuted with a half hour presentation on climate change, which was more than CNN and Fox had given the issue – the most important of our time – in the past 4 months. How long before Al Jazeer realizes that the American viewer has been too dumbed down to appreciate being treated like a sensible, thinking adult?

Jobs Description: "A big part of the capitalist exercise is to find or create workers to exploit."

Eye of the Beholder: The Columbia, SC City Council has instructed the police to remove “unsightly homeless people” from the business district in order to improve the city's “quality of life.” The police chief was reluctant to enforce the ordinance because “homelessness is not a crime.” Even if they are unsightly.

Breadwinner: Elton McCabe just keeps trying. First he kidnapped a businessman in South Sudan and held him for ransom. US Sen David Vitter (Reptile, LA) interceded and got McCabe freed from that one. Now he's been convicted of extorting a $60,000 bribe in order to steer a $3.2 million military contract in Afghanistan to 'friends'. His defense: He was “trying to provide for his family." Found guilty, he must serve ten months in a federal facility. He'll probably end up leasing it to someone.

The Parting Shot:
 Original equipment.

Friday, August 23, 2013

SAR #13235

The cost of salvation is often too high; ask any addict.

Drip, Drip, Drip: The latest Snowden 'leak' details a secret internet surveillance base run by the UK in the Middle East, where it taps into and monitors underwater fiber-optic cables to intercept emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies. It is, of course, part of the war on the terror of private citizens having any privacy terror.

Misnomer: Turns out that trading options on NASDAQ Thrusday afternoon was not an option, nor was trading stocks. 
Here's A Plan: Instead of working to extend access to health insurance to the citizens of Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker plans to cut more people from Medicaid under ACA – over 90,000 - than any other state. This is not a refusal to extend Medicaid to those intended to benefit under ACA, this is kicking 90,000 people off of the program. Wisconsin is one of only four states that will reduce their Medicaid eligibility. This is not a mater of money, for Wisconsin is turning down millions in ACA funding. This is simple meaness. Republican, self-righteous meanness. 
Paragraph 47(b) Subsection 381: Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America says that the Affordable Care Act will require gun owners to undergo electroshock therapy. And just in time, too.

Let Me Count The Ways: Here are a few relatively new feedback-loop candidates that will be drifing up the rate of global climate change: methane hydrates bubbling up from Arctic Ocean. Rapidly growing methane vents in Siberia. Methane release in the Antarctic. Warming permafrost. Warming peat bogs. Forest fires in Siberia and North America feeding ever more soot to come settling down on the Greenland Ice Cap. Warm Atlantic waters keep pouring into the Arctic, melting ice from below. The slowing of the thermohaline conveyor belt. And so on, possibly leading to a climactic Heinrich Event in Greenland, where it all falls apart in a massive surge.

Caveat: Investigators report that a baby in India "almost surely" is not spontaneously combusting. Almost surely.

History Lesson: A Kentucky theater owner has banned showing 'The Butler' because Jane Fonda, 'the enemy' aka 'a person of treason' protrays 'patriotic lady' Nancy Reagan in the movie.

Welcome to the Age of Denial: Today it is politically effective and socially acceptable to deny scientific fact. Long ago it was this way, too. Then we had a few hundred years of science and progress and now we're back to irrational beliefs and wish-fulfillment fantasies , lost in denial and seeking salvation through myths and blind faith.

On Math: Math is the language of nature, can predict the future, and its mastery is true power. It is also fun. And it can be abused. Is. 
Again: Between 2000 and 2012, working Americans wages did not grow. Not a bit. 
The Speed Zone Ahead: While geology sets the final limit to oil recovery, the effective limitation is primarily financial. The recent history of oil exploration and extraction is one of every scarcer resources ever more expensively found and extracted. The expense is both in monetary terms – it simply costs more – and in energy terms – it simply costs more. This is a one way street of every more expensive diminishing returns that will inevitably cripple our economy. No one knows what the downslope will be like, just that it is inevitable and no adequate (financial cost, energy cost, or energy effectiveness to replace liquid fuels) is in sight.

Asked &Avoided: Are the rich getting too much of the economic pie?  Define 'too much'.

The Parting Shot:

Chicory, Cichorium intybus.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

SAR #13234

Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. Bradley Manning
You Say Potato: Obama says "we don't have a domestic spying program." What he meant was that NSA - 'The abyss from which there is no return' - isn't domesticated. Seems the guys from Fort Meade 'scan' at least 75% of American web traffic, emails and all. The other 25% if squirrels away to read another day.

Differences: If you, or I, heaven forbid, make a poorly advised investment through our brokerage account at Goldman Sachs, well, too bad, but that's the way the market works. Some lose, some win. But when Goldman Sachs makes a poorly advised investment through its rapid-fire computer trading, well... It wants its several hundred million buckaroos back. And will probably get them, too. One size, it seems, does not fit all.

An Explanation: The debate over who will be the next Fed chair, Yelen or Summers, comes down to a question of choosing between leadership and salesmanship
Say Goodnight, Gracie: The military thinks sit can track terrorists by tracking money laundering via Twitter and Facebook. DHS says it is “making progress” with technology to identify everyone in any crowd through facial recognition. According to internal documents, NSA monitors at least ““75% of all U.S. Internet traffic.” And what it doesn't read today it stores for a rainy day. As for the FISA court's oversight, after it found some of NSA's activities to be unconstitutional, NSA did not reform - it simplied lied to the court for three years. Goodnight, Gracie.

Noted: JPMorgan complains that the US spends “pathetically little on infrastructure compared to the rest of the civilized world.” Where did they get the idea that we were civilized?

Why I hate economists: In figuring out how much austerity has hurt us (and the economy), the general rule is to ask how much higher the GDP would have been without the effects of the austerity measurs. But, and here's where I reach for the air sickness bag, many economists say that overstates things unless we take into consideration the value of the extra leisure the unemployed and marginally employed are enjoying.

Après Nous, le Déluge: It may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources. Most reporting – indeed, most human life in 2013 – leaves too much of a digital fingerprint for the concept of 'confidential' to survive.

 Economics: The art of making exact predictions based on assumptions about unmeasurable things.

Informed Citizens: A poll showed that Louisiana Republicans are more likely to blame Obama than Bush for the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina, which happened in 2005.

Once More, Without Feeling: Collateralized debt obligations, the complex financial instruments that cratered disastrously in the financial crisis, are back. In the bad old days they were frequently gamed to the tune of subprime mortgages. Today they are being played with chips from assorted squirrelly loans. Instead of being called CDO, they're now called CLO. See, it's different this time.

Kindling: Someone paid for research that determined that US Senators represent their wealthiest constituents at the expense of those lower on the food chain.

Healthcare, The Score: The public doesn’t like what it thinks the Democrats did. But it really doesn’t like what it thinks the Republicans will do. And rightly so, for the Republicans have no idea what they will do after repealing Obamacare.

Porn O'Graph: Equality.
The Parting Shot:
No IRA, no pension, no social safety net...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

SAR #13233

Despite recent events here and abroad, there is a difference between terrorism and journalism.

Motions, Going Through: The Guardian, knowing that it had encrypted copies of the Snowden documents 'elsewhere' happily went along with Great Britain's GCHQ in the "slightly pointless" task of destroying computer hard drives in the newspaper's press offices. 
Chrysalis: If Caterpillar, the global economy's signpost, reports successive monthly global retail sales of -7%, -8% and now -9%. Their Asia/Pacific (for which read China) y/y results were down 28%. 
It Was Only Business... Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, will stand trial for his alleged role in the murder of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. 
Credit, Where Due: JCPenney wants everyone to know that their crappy results should be blamed on Bill Ackman and not the customer; that the company went through $2.1 billion in the first six months of the year was strategy. That noise you hear off-stage is the fat lady, warming up.

The Headline: Man’s scrotum swelled to 132 pounds due to lack of health insurance. Don't go there. 
Where In The World Is... The Obama administration wants the Supremes to bless warantless cellphone searches by any and all police agencies, school principals and parking lot attendants. They say the 16 gigabytes of personal information stored on your iPhone is the same as a pone number scribbled on the back of a book of matches. Really. They say the Fourth Amendment allows warantless searches, along with indefinite detention, torture, and death by drone.

Some Numbers: In June, Saudi Arabia produced 9.64 million barrels of oil and exported 7.32 million. The first number is lower than May, the second higher. Rinse and repeat. 
Just Justification: The British government now claims to have found ‘highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism’ on a computer belonging to David Miranda, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner. It is obvious that the UK and the US have been tracking anyone close to Snowden or Greenwald and intends to harass each and evey one of them. Sort of a tantrum to vent their displeasure. 
Sounds Like: In Mulberry , Florida, Pastor Terry Jones intends to burn 2,998 Korans on September 11. He says he respects Muslims, just can't abide Islam. This sort of thing never happened in Mayberry.

Orphans: PG&E says that the $2.25 billion penalty it has been assessed for the 2010 pipeline explosion that killed 8 is too severe and will have to seek bankruptcy as a way to avoid paying the judgment.

Enigma Machine: The right-wing Heritage Foundation is frothing at the mouth about stopping the “unconstitutional” attempt by Congress and the President, with the support of the Supreme Court, to take care of the sick and the poor among us. 
Your Results May Vary: A new study suggests that the more sex you have, the higher your income, even if you're not a prostitute in the traditional sense.

Questions: Mr. President, why have you not closed Guantanamo? Why do you treat whistle-blowers as though they were terrorists? Why is the US prison population so high and why does the nation keep executing prisoners at a pace and rate higher than North Korean and Yemen and nearly tie with China and Iran? Mr. President, if you can justify killing your own citizens by drone strike, how many innocent foreigners do you think is acceptable to kill because they are in the in the wrong place at the wrong time? How do you justify NSA's operations in light of what used to be the US Constitution? Should Americans be able to send an email without it being read by the government?

Porn O' Graph: Here's where them that's got it put it.

The Parting Shot:
Seasonal greetings from Solidago odora.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SAR #13232

Efficient markets produce minimal profits.

The Best Defense: Saudi Arabia, which fears democracy nearly as much as it fears the Islamist terrorists it finances, says it will step in and replace any funds the West withholds from Egypt. 
"A huge amount of radiation:" A storage tank is leaking highly contaminated, highly radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site. The 300 ton breach is separate from the ongoing 300 ton a day leak previously reported and is so contaminating that a worker near the leak would develp radiation sickness withing 10 hours.

Markdown: JCPenny's same-store sales fell 11.9% in the second quarter, with a net loss of $586 million. It ain't over 'til it's over, but it's getting pretty damned close.

Cornucopia: One of the basic concepts in the oil and gas industry is called 'profit'. The general idea is that oil companies look for places where they can acquire drilling rights, drill and extract hydrocarbons and sell them profitably. Shell has joined BP in tossing in the towel on their fracking operations because fracking has managed to produce so much natural gas that it cannot be sold for a profit given the low price, the cost of drilling and the disappointing life-span of productive wells. 
Now It Can Be Told: The CIA now acknowledges that it “was involved” in the overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mosaddeq “after he sought to nationalize the Iranian oil industry.” Who would'a guessed?

Politician: For wholly inexplicable reasons (political payoff is the only thing that comes to mind) the Obama administration wants the Trans Pacific Partnership freedom to loot agreement to specifically give tobacco companies zero tariffs, expanded investor rights, and greater limits on regulation of tobacco advertising. It would also give these merchants of death the ability to render null and void any and all state and national regulations and legislation that would hamper their harvesting of profits by killing their customers.

Scouting Report: A couple of confused Christian radio guys who don't quite get the concept are telling their listeners that the Boy Scouts are now offering merit badges in sodomy, incest and cannibalism.

One Size Fits: Have you noticed on the evening news that SWAT officers in a growing number of cities and states are wearing the exact same combat gear as US troops wore in Iraq – with different colors for flack jackets and helmets and in urban, not desert camouflage? And they are doing things the way the military does – from task command organization to pre-positioning standardized equipment. what we’re doing, is we’re building a military force for deployment against US citizens. But just because the police departments have weaponry more suitable for Iraq than “the land of the free” doesn’t guarantee them victory here any more than it did there.

Noted: Technology has to be economically feasible or it doesn’t matter.

Short Form: ACA/Obamacare rests on three rather clear principles: Everyone gets coverage. Everyone pays for coverage. Those that cannot afford coverage will get support/subsidies from the government. Now that wasn't hard, was it? And no it does not require “an abortion in every household.”

Non Sequitur: Using fossil fuels is anti-social, investing in them is unethical. So? What's that got to do with me?

Over Diagnosis: What if you were irradiated, sliced and diced and saturated with chemicals because a scan or a biopsy picked up a cancer that was either slow moving or not life-threatening? Perhaps people survive early-stage cancers not because they’re treated in time, but because their disease never would have become life-threatening at all. The question is how many 'some' is, and whether you are in the 'yea' or 'nay' cohort. Early diagnosis may lead to prevention, it most certainly can lead to health-threatening and quite possibly unneeded treatment. It is entirely possible to be a cancer-treatment survivor without ever having had cancer.

The Parting Shot:
Look at me! Look at me! Passiflora incarnata